Riding a two-game losing streak into Saturday's match against Illinois State University, Ball State University men's tennis coach Bill Richards knew getting back on track wouldn't be easy.
So after trailing early in both the doubles and singles matches, Ball State still was able to rally back for a 4-3 win over Illinois State at the Muncie Northwest YMCA Tennis Center.
"This is exactly the type of match we expected," Richards said. "With a little good luck we pulled it out, but with a little bad luck we could've lost."
There were back-and-forth matches throughout the day, but Richards said the Cardinals remained resilient to pull out the victory.
"That was one of the main things we talked about," Richards said. "Lots of our guys were down in sets or in games, but we converted our opportunities and fought through the tough times."
It all started early with the doubles matches. Despite trailing early in the match, the No. 3 doubles team of Cliff Morrison and Derek Carpenter pulled out an 8-6 victory.
After splitting the first two doubles matches, it came down to Carpenter and Morrison to pull it out. They did, and Ball State went into singles play up 1-0.
"Cliff isn't the conventional doubles player," Richards said. "He was a little stiff at the beginning, but once he got warmed up he got it together. This was the first important doubles match he has been involved in, but they were able to get over the hump."
In singles play, the match got even tighter.
Illinois State took two of the first three singles matches to tie it up at two points apiece. Whoever won the two of the remaining three matches would get the win.
It was Ball State which took two of the next three matches and the win. Dalton Albertin and Eduardo Pavia each had three-set wins to help lead the Cardinals to the victory.
"Illinois State is similar in talent level to both of the Big Ten Conference opponents we faced," Richards said. "I challenged our team after the Michigan State University loss and we really responded positively."
Albertin said he felt Saturday's close match will pay dividends throughout the season.
"This was our first good, close win of the year," Albertin said. "It boosted our confidence to have a tough win like this. We just need to keep believing that we can play with these teams and continue to get better."
The Cardinals will have a chance to continue to build upon their success as they take on Wisconsin University at Green Bay next Sunday. It is their third scheduled game in their six-match home stretch.
"It is really nice to be playing at home because traveling starts to take its toll," Albertin said. "We just need to get a few more good wins before we hit the road against more good teams."